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Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be A Robot Command Center In The Future (ieee.org) 31

Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots. According Zero Zero cofounder and CEO Meng Qiu Wang, "It has two cameras. The front viewing camera is a 13-megapixel camera that records video, but also has Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), an algorithm that allows it to determine where it is. It also has a down-facing video camera, running an algorithm called optical flow, that looks at ground at 60 frames per second, so the Hover knows when it moves and can correct itself. These visual sensors are giving inputs and actual position and speed, meanwhile, the accelerometer and gyroscope gives relative position. All these signals are fed into the flight control algorithm, so when I throw it up in the air, it can just hover there." With a price of less than $600, it should compete well against the expensive DJI Phantom 4, which is already available on the market for $1400 and features autonomous flying and tracking features.
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Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be A Robot Command Center In The Future

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  • Very nice! These guys are really thinking about what they're doing.

    • Not a new idea. It's how an optical mouse works. Add a telephoto lens to an ADNS-2051. Or Google "optical flow uav navigation 2004"

      • Indeed, that's my point -- they are doing real engineering to get to some useful goals instead of trying to re-invent the wheel like so many others do.

        Sorry I was so brief as to not be clear!

    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      Found these Chinese shill. You need to work on your English a little more before astroturfing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is just what we need, making it easier for drones to invade people's privacy. If you're flying high enough, small movements in the position of the drone won't have any effect on the quality of the picture or video. After all, this technology wasn't needed to get good photos and videos from helicopters. This is really for things like using drones to look in people's windows and spy on them. We don't need that.

  • That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. He can throw it in the air and it can just hover there? It took you two years to build that with 80 people? Christ.
    • It's more difficult than you might think. Without GPS, maintaining it's position with only video and other sensors is a tough problem. Image processing is computationally intensive, so making it work with limited hardware that can fit in a drone doesn't make it any easier. I do agree that it is kind of lame though. I'm not a big fan of a bunch of little drones floating around everywhere.
      • Not as tough as shooting womp rats in my T-16. I could do this with some rubber bands, a webcam and a few shell scripts.
      • by hippo ( 107522 )

        Not sure it will ever work well with just vision, how will it cope if you fling it over the pool on a day with moving clouds in the reflection? Fling it over an escalator and it may not come back.

      • Without gps, Lidar would work, radar with the right chips can work, with a camera or stereo camera can work. The computational limits were resolved with newer hardware such as the Jetson TX1.

  • The idea of a hover platform to provide guidance to ground-based robots would seem to make sense. Would be pretty noisy, tho.

    • Why not set up a simpler gps tracking system and have them tracked using a variation of gps/basestation corrections and wireless ap connections? If they are robots they will have both.

  • From the article:

    Flying cameras are drones designed for use by consumers that don’t want to learn how to fly a drone; they just want to take pictures....In a few weeks, I’ll be attending my son’s high school graduation in Silicon Valley, with, I’m sure, my view obscured by parents using pads and phones and selfie-sticks to record the moment. By next spring, I’m betting at least a few of the selfie-sticks and tripods are going to be replaced by camera drones.

    Flying so near large groups of people is against the law.

    Besides, a quadcopter will most probably crash, as the WiFi signal from the numerous smartphones of a large group will interfere with the radio command signal.

    One must learn to fly anyway, otherwise it is just a recipe for a disaster.

  • Combine this with Facebook's face recognition, and your home can watch everyone as effectively as the sensors in "Minority Report". Of course then the hacking community/government will tap into them the way many do with the cameras in smartphones or IoT appliances and then...well. The Chinese government would probably LOVE one of these in every home. (Many of their products, one infamous router in particular, are know for existing back doors...not closed even after discovery).
  • foe example in slomo shots you can see all four propellers spinning anti clockwise :))

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